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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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to the central point in the area of the Volga,, where the Polish Army was
being formed. Many went straight on to Kuibyshev where the Polish
Embassy had been re-opened in the temporary capital of the Soviets. In
the labour camps some had been liberated by the authorities, others had
left their places of exile as soon as the news of the Polish-Russian Treaty
and the formation of the Polish Army had filtered through to them and
without awaiting orders. These people travelled without food, living on
jaw potatoes and unboiled water. Food in Soviet Russia was reserved for
those who worked and nothing could be obtained, even for large sums of
money3 without the official cards which indicated the holder belonged to
some collective (kolhoz, sowchoz) or factory. Those people were indeed
in a desperate plight in that undernourished country. Some had to
wait for days on the railway stations. In most cases their journey lasted
for several weeks, even months, much longer than anyone had anticipated.
Some of them came from as far away as Kalyma, Anadyr, the Kamchatka
Peninsula; from beyond the Arctic Grcle, across the Siberian tundra;
from the Altay Mountains and Pamir on the frontiers of India. All were
in a state of extreme exhaustion when they arrived, suffering from
dysentry, chilbains and frost-bite, with thin, grey faces and bowed
figures y most of them had lost their teeth. They were clad in an assort-
ment of rags, barefooted or with their legs wrapped in bits of rags from the
remnants of the clothes they had taken with them from Poland.
" Open sores infested their hands and legs owing to lack of vitamins.
Measles had become an epidemic among the children, followed by bronchitis
and pneumonia. Many a weary survivor, trailing to the Polish camp, died
on the wayside. Others died in the arms of their friends a few days after
reaching their goal. The Polish authorities were not able to collect enough
food for the arriving masses.
" Their complete state of exhaustion can be judged from one batch of
1,020 officers who arrived at the Tatishchevo camp. Although they were
in an appalling state, it was hoped that they might be saved, but within a
month 63 of them had died."*
Cholerton, the Moscow correspondent of the Daily Telegraph (October
nthj 1941) saw some of the Poles after their release from places of
detention.
" . . They arrive in Moscow very sick indeed," he wrote. " How they
have recovered physically has been a miracle, a miracle born of their morale,
their newly admitted right to fight once more for their land.
" General Anders told me about a force of 12,000 Poles which he inspected.
They were all still pretty ragged because their battle dress had not arrived.
No more than one in four had shirts, no more than one in twenty had
overcoats. But they .. . marched . .. such is the morale of a great nation,
greater than ever in adversity."
The Russian authorities supplied food for only the prescribed number of
soldiers in the camps and revised to concern themselves with the problem
of feeding any of the Polish citizens. The daily ration in the military
*fc Interview with General Anders " Polska Wcdczqta (The Fighting Poland),
November 20th, 1943.
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